Summary: What do you get out of Church? If you don't get Christ, you miss it all!

Getting Christ Out of Church

Acts 8:9-24

Have you ever said, “I just didn’t get anything out of that”? I hear of people who leave church services and say things like that. “I just don’t get anything out of church.” Perhaps you’ve said that yourself. I want us to think about that today.

What are you supposed to get out of church?

What did Simon the sorcerer want to get out of church? Did he get it? (Reading for today’s lesson)

What about Ananias and Sapphira, what did they want to get out of church? What did they get? (Acts 5:1-11)

Some people don’t get what they personally want out of church. That may be because they came to church expecting something other than what the church is designed to give.

What are you looking for when you come to assemble with the church? What is it you expect to get out of it? If you are not getting anything out of church, there are at least two possibilities:

1. It could be that the church isn’t doing what it is supposed to do; it isn’t supplying what God designed the church to supply. In that case, perhaps you need leave and find a church that IS offering what God designed it to offer.

2. On the other hand, it might be that you are expecting things from the church that God never intended it to give. In that case, you need to change your expectations. Just what did God design the church to supply?

One time when I was a little kid about four years old, my uncle offered me a choice between a dollar bill and 2 quarters. I took the quarters because I thought that two are better than one. My poor dad was there, watching his dumb kid make an ignorant choice. I thought a piece of paper was surely worth less than two shiny pieces of silver. I can still hear my uncle’s chuckle as my dad tried to explain it to me. I had thought surely you could get more out of those two quarters than you could just one dollar bill. But, I needed to change my expectations and understanding.

Sunday morning comes and offers us an opportunity. This is a day where we get to make choices on how to spend our time. We can sleep in, go do something secular or get everyone up, dressed and go gather with fellow Christians for a time of what we call worship assembly. Which is the best choice? Why? Which choice offers the more valuable and lasting substance? I can see that all of you chose to be here. On the other hand, maybe you were compelled to come but if you had your own way you would prefer to be somewhere else, doing something else. Either way, what are you hoping to get out of this time together?

Chris Proctor told me that for a while he would come to church and just endure the whole thing. He told me that by the time I got up to speak he was miles away in his mind, thinking of other things and just sort of waiting for it all to be over. He told me that he figured that Christianity was something you needed, but that it shouldn’t get in your way of making a living or your career. His expectation for being a Christian and coming to assemblies had somehow grown into that. Chris wanted more out of life than what he thought church was offering. Today, Chris sees church in a totally new way. It was like the lights suddenly came on and he could see the treasures of God there. What you get out of church is not just what happens in assembly, what you get out of church is what happens between you and God.

John Kiesling gave me the book, Half Time, by Bob Buford. I read it. Listen to this insight about church from Peter Drucker in the introduction: When I came to this country in the ‘30’s as an American correspondent for a group of British papers, church attendance was mandatory. The application for a mortgage that we filled out within a few weeks of our moving to this country – in an affluent and hardly “religious” New Your City suburb to boot – asked for two references, one of whom had to be the [preacher] of the church you attended. If you had no such reference, you could not get a mortgage. Even twenty-five years later, in the early ‘50’s, in small town and rural America somebody who did not go to church did not get a bank loan or a decent job. This social pressure has now disappeared.

So… what did people get out of church back in those days? For some, at least, it was a mortgage and a decent job! That was when going to church was just what you did, and American culture made church membership a social compulsion rather than a free choice. Denominations may have competed for who came to their churches, but people went to church. It was part of the culture. In those days divorce was a big social taboo. Marriage, whether good or bad, was supported not only by the church, but by society itself. Today social support for church attendance and marriage has basically vaporized.

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